My five year-old is on a youth soccer team. And while the level of soccer they produce is forgettable, one moment in particular has left an indelible impression on my mind.
A kid from our team found himself (surprisingly) with the ball near the opposing team’s goal. He kicked it straight to the goalie, who (surprisingly) managed to scoop it up. None of which was particularly amazing.
But then it happened.
Our little guy’s momentum carried him right past their little goalie. And as he ran by, they both spontaneously raised their arms and gave each other a high-five.
They were on opposing teams. They’d never met prior to that moment. Only seconds earlier they were actively trying to defeat the other. But in that moment, as they came face to face, their fraternity of playing a game together created an affinity, a commonality, even a sense of unity.
They had every reason in the world to focus on their differences, but they instead responded to what bound them together.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
We have a few different teams within the kingdom of heaven.
In fact, we have innumerable teams with vastly different perspectives, backgrounds, and points of emphasis. We interpret the Bible in different ways, we choose different strategies of cultural engagement, we spend our money differently, we vote differently, we educate our children differently, we choose different ways of doing church, or worshiping, or even talking to people about Jesus.
And I understand that we have every reason in the world to focus on our differences, but I also believe it’s possible to embrace our shared unity without ignoring our differences. I believe we don’t have to agree on everything, and even more, we don’t have to pretend that we do! We don’t have to vote the same way, but we also don’t have to push guilt onto those who vote another way. We can join each other without waiting for each other to ‘come around’ to our way of doing things. We don’t have to look like one another, or sound like one another, or even necessarily act like one another, to truly be one rather than another.
Those two kids on the soccer field taught me that we don’t have to be on the same team; we only need to be in the same kingdom.
May our unity in the kingdom of heaven prove more powerful than our politics, our perspectives, and even our passions.